Sanibel-Captiva & Fort Myers Beach, FL  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Sanibel-Captiva & Fort Myers Beach Area Features

Traveling Wildlife Drive

The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is second only to beaches as the island’s top attraction. It is one of the most visited refuges in the United States. Traveling Wildlife Drive is an experience people will remember.

This pristine natural ecosystem has been preserved within a densely populated region of southwest Florida. Over 750,000 people visit the refuge annually and explore Wildlife Drive, most of them by car. Unfortunately, this automobile traffic constantly exposes this delicate ecosystem to polluting exhaust fumes and noisy automobile engines. Visitors should consider taking the tram that is offered several times daily to tour Wildlife Drive. Wildlife refuges are created and maintained for the protection and conservation of wildlife and their natural habitats. Bear this in mind, and experience this unique refuge in the way that has the least impact on its inhabitants. If the automobile traffic continues and the human impact on the ecosystem is not reduced, our children and grandchildren will not be able to enjoy this wonderful experience.

Not only is the tram the better touring option when we consider impact, but it is also the more enjoyable option, and it provides a more in-depth learning experience. With an experienced guide, you’ll spot wildlife most visitors would never see on their own or would not be able to identify. In addition to identifying all the refuge inhabitants, the guides are a wealth of information regarding the biology and life history of these species. The guides take visitors past tidal mud flats and mangrove forests where roseate spoonbills, herons, egrets, pelicans, ibis, anhingas and many more birds may be observed.

You will have the chance to stop and stretch your legs along the way. The Mangrove Overlook Boardwalk is a great place to spot tree crabs, fiddler crabs, periwinkle snails and more. On a walk to the water’s edge near the Cross Dike, you may spot crown conch, jumping mullet or even a marsh rabbit.

You never know what you may encounter along the way. The tram tour guides are always on the lookout for interesting and unusual wildlife. The guides will stop the tram whenever they – or a passenger – see something to share with the group. The tram tour isn’t just about the wildlife; you’ll hear who J. Norwood “Ding” Darling was, and also hear much of the history of the Calusa Indians and other Sanibel folklore. The tram benefits the wildlife and the refuge visitors, so please consider this option next time you visit “Ding” Darling NWR.

Sit back and enjoy the ride with your hands free to snap photos or hold your binoculars as you gaze at the wildlife. You’ll know you made the right choice by taking the tram. Protect wildlife and take the tram. For more information call  239-472-1351 or 239-472-8900.

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